EBRD announces two Women’s initiatives

Reassuring close to International Women’s Day (8th March) the EBRD is extending the outreach of its Women in Business programme in Morocco by expanding the initiative the region of Tangier, Tétouan-Al Hoceima and Oriental in the north of the country.

The region has a high concentration of women-led businesses in the medical, retail and service sectors. The expansion of the EBRD, which was launched in the country last year, will provide female entrepreneurs with access to finance, advisory services and trainings.

The EBRD’s Women in Business programme receives important support from the European Unionunder the EU Initiative for Financial Inclusion* which is delivering crucial funding for guarantees to EBRD partner banks and advisory services for banks and women entrepreneurs.

Marking the beginning of the implementation phase of the programme in Tangier, the EBRD Director for Morocco, Marie-Alexandra Veilleux-Laborie, said: “This programme has the potential to make a major impact in Morocco. Currently, only 50 per cent of women-led firms use a bank account and even those who do are often unable to use the full range of what banks have to offer. This programme will empower female entrepreneurs by helping women get access to finance and know-how.”

In an introductory phase in Morocco, the EBRD is providing the equivalent of a total of €35 million in local currency to BMCE Bank of Africa and BMCI (Banque marocaine pour le commerce et l’industrie) to support women-led small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from across the country. The EBRD has signed a €20 million loan with BMCE and a €15 million loan with BMCI.

Other banks are expected to join the initiative nationwide. The programme aims to reach at least 200 women entrepreneurs in Morocco in its initial phase through financing and advisory services. A focus will be put on supporting entrepreneurs outside of Morocco’s main commercial centres.

In addition to financing, women entrepreneurs receive business advice to make their businesses more competitive, as well as training, mentoring and network-building services, and also access to the EBRD’s online self-diagnostic, Business Lens. The training and mentoring allow women entrepreneurs to share experiences and learn from each other.

The EBRD Women in Business programme supports women entrepreneurs across the Bank’s regions. Since its launch in 2014, the initiative has reached 55,000 women, providing financing of over €485 million in cooperation with more than 30 financial institutions in 18 countries, as well as improved access to know-how, skills development training and business networks.

The Bank is also is putting women at the centre of its commitment to Egypt’s transition to a green economy with a new initiative that supports the country’s vast potential for renewable energy.

Launched in Cairo at an event to encourage enhancing employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for women in green energy, the programme aims to identify and address the key barriers hindering the development of the region’s renewable energy economy.

The Programme for Supporting Renewable Energy and Promoting Gender Equality in Egypt is one aspect of a joint US$ 7 million technical cooperation initiative co-funded by the EBRD and the Green Climate Fund (GCF).Its aim is to enhance renewable energy integration, policies and planning to support the country in meeting its target of 20 per cent renewable energy generation by 2022 and 42 per cent by 2035.

With one of the fastest-growing populations globally, Egypt has seen a rapid increase in energy demand in recent years. To meet that need, Egypt and the EBRD have identified scaling up the country’s renewable energy capacity as a strategic priority.

As a result, the Egyptian renewable energy sector is set to create new jobs, which represents a significant opportunity for women in Egypt to expand their skills and participate in a high-value, high-growth sector.

The programme will strive to identify challenges that prevent women’s participation in the sector and potential skills mismatches, and will work with the Egyptian authorities to overcome these issues.

Since rapidly growing markets offer multiple opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship to thrive, the programme will have a specific focus on looking at the impact that new renewable energy projects can have for women-led small and medium-sized enterprises. This will include recommendations for ways to facilitate a greater number of successful women-led small businesses in the sector.

This approach is due to the EBRD and the GCF’s commitment to mainstreaming gender initiatives in their investments and projects. The GCF is the first climate finance mechanism to include considerations for gender equality in their project cycle from the start. Similarly, the EBRD adopted its first ever Strategy for the Promotion of Gender Equality in 2015 that mandates the promotion of policies and practices that contribute to building gender equitable and sustainable economies.

The EBRD is a leading climate finance provider in its regions, having invested nearly €30 billion in Green Economy Transition projects since 2006, with €5.2 billion invested in renewable energy.

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